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Irete Youths, Roche Group trade blames – We are marginalized in our land – Irete Youths



-They are making false claims – Roche

Some of the Irate Irete youths waiting patiently  at Roche group Premises.

Some of the Irate Irete youths waiting patiently at Roche group Premises.

The Youths of Irete in Owerri West LGA of Imo State under the aegis of Positive Articulative Irete Youths, staged what they tagged a peaceful demonstration at the premises of Roche Group in the Onitsha Road Industrial Layout on Wednesday, September 11, 2013 forcefully grinding to a halt all construction activities of the company on the said day. The Youth who were in their numbers said they were protesting negligence and marginalization of their people by Roche Group in their area.

Speaking to our correspondents, the leader of the group, Comrade Frank Uche Akujobi said they came a peaceful demonstration to make the company understand their grievances. He noted that Roche has over 485 work force with only nine of them from Irete. Mr. Akujobi stated that their major point of bitterness was that the nine persons from Irete have all been dismissed from work by the construction company without due reasons stating that part of the reason for their demonstration was for Roche to reinstate their men back to work. According  to the Youth leader, the last straw that broke the camel’s back was an incident involving one of their youth members, Obinna Umezurike, a Roche driver who got involved in a fatal motor accident that claimed some lives while on duty. Mr. Akujobi remarked that the company abandoned the young driver during the incident and rather went clandestinely to retrieve their car. He alleged that the boy was allowed to languish in jail but for the intervention of Irete Youths who rallied support to bail the young man from detention. He stated that the youths spent over 200,00naira to settle the matter while Obinna spent nearly two months in police custody.

In his own reaction, Mr. Obinna Umezurike who said he started work as Roche driver in February, 2013, confirmed the incident. He narrated how he was sent on official duty to Aboh Mbaise and got involved in an accident that claimed life. He said he was later charged to court and remanded in prison custody in April while Roche never showed any interest in his matter. Mr. Obinna said it was for the assistance of his community and his family that he was able to survive the case whereas the company he worked for totally ignored him to suffer.

Speaking further, Comrade Akujobi said they have written to the Roche Management to understand their plight but to no avail. Roche, according to him rather connived with their past youth leaders championed by one Comrade Osinachi Iwunze to sponsor conflicts in their community. Comrade Aku leader expressed hope that their demonstration would yield positive fruits since having secured the assistance of the Imo State SSS, both parties agreed to a dialogue and to strike an agreement that would favour both Roche Group and the host community Irete.

When contacted, the Roche Group MD, Paul Roche regretted the damages the Irete Youths did on the company during their alleged peaceful demonstration. Mr. Roche informed the Leader that Roche is an independent construction company with about 35 years of existence in Ireland. He said the company has been in Nigeria for the past five years with branches in Lagos, Benin and Imo (headquarter) States. Responding to allegations by the Irete youths, the MD noted his embarrassment at the action of the boys. He attributed the demonstration to intra- communal rivalry between the old and new excos of the youths in Irete. Mr. Roche said he was taken aback by the demonstration mostly because the company had arranged a meeting with the youth leaders at 3pm on September 11, being the day of the demonstration but the youths came earlier to their premises and having collected money from the management, yet they went ahead to throw stones and damage their structures.

On the issue of recognition of the host communities, the Roche MD noted that the company which had been in Imo state for barely two years has given maximum recognition to Irete people. He said that they have a policy of giving priority of supply of construction materials like diesel and fuel as well as other benefits to Irete through their past youth leaders. He also maintained that the past excos received not less than N200m  from Roche Group since the company began operations. Roche, according to him, is organizing a football competition for Irete community which would be kicking off very soon and makes sure that he is in constant communication with the traditional ruler of the area.

Reacting to the allegation of abandonement of his driver, Mr. Obinna Umezurike, who had an accident with the company’s car while on official duty, Mr. Roche was forced to produce documentary evidence on the past misbehaviors of the said driver and his non compliance with the company’s policies. He was quick to debunk the allegation while maintaining that Mr. Umezurike diverted from his Portharcourt route to Mbaise where the accident happened and was detected to be over-speeding when the accident occurred. Mr. Umezurike, he noted had been enjoying the privilege of being an Irete to indulge in cases of stealing diesel and cement from the company in the past. He had received written queries for the said acts and could only stay on since the company was avoiding having conflicts with their host. He maintained however, that Roche wanted to step into his matter but noticed the driver’s unrepentant attitude which made the company to retreat. The company’s truck, he remarked was recovered weeks after the driver had been released.

The Roche management therefore pointed out some reasons it felt led to the demonstration to include: The meeting scheduled to hold by 3pm by the traditional ruler of Irete with the CGC (Community Government) and the company. That the new youth group wanted to show their authority over the old youth body and had to demonstrate before the meeting. That those employed from Irete would want to take the laws into their hands and operate as they wanted in the company.

Meanwhile, the Roche MD reiterated that they would be meeting with the State Security Service and hoped to streamline all differences with the youth. He reaffirmed that Roche as a company would always operate within the ambiance of service delivery with strict observance of their policies while taking cognizance of the interest of their host community in a manner that would not stifle their business.


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USAID begins Covid-19 testing in Imo rural areas



USAID averts 25,000 unwanted pregnancies in Ebonyi, Kogi

…Umuagwo Varsity of Agric kicks-off October

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has begun Covid-19 testing in the 27 Local Government Areas of Imo State, “in a bid to reduce the impact of community spread of the virus in the rural areas of the state.

The Imo State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Chief Declan Mbadiwe Emelumba disclosed this in Owerri while briefing newsmen on the outcome of the Weekly Executive Council meeting presided over by Governor Hope Uzodimma on Wednesday.

Chief Emelumba said so far, the USAID officials have carried out reasonable number of testing in Njaba LGA and reported that all those tested came out negative and that the council prayed that the result from other Local Government Areas will be the same.

He announced that the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) has approved the take off of the Imo State University for Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Umuagwo in October this year.

According to him, the approval underscores the efforts which the Imo State Government ably led by Governor Hope Uzodinma has made towards the establishment of a second university for the state.

Recently, the NUC panel was in Imo State to carry out the necessary verification exercises on the state facilities, human and physical infrastructures.

Mr. Declan Emelumba, who was flanked by the Commissioner for Education, Prof. Bernard Ikegwuoha, Commissioner for Health Dr. Damaris Osunkwo and the Chief Press Secretary/Media Adviser to the Governor Mr. Oguwike Nwachuku, informed that the Executive Council is happy that something new is happening in the Education Sector of the State.

Emelumba said that the Imo State University of Science and Environmental Sciences, Umuagwo will take off by October when other universities would be resuming for a new academic session.

In the same vein, the Council has approved the immediate relocation of Faculty of Engineering Imo State University Owerri to its permanent site at Okigwe, stressing that Government has put all processes and facilities on ground to ensure the immediate take–off of the faculty.

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Imo Governor’s aide visits Oziza FM Staff, Ogechi Iwu in hospital



Imo Governor’s aide visits Oziza FM  Staff, Ogechi Iwu in hospital

The Chief Press Secretary and Media Adviser to Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State, Mr. Oguwike Nwachuku has visited Mr. Ogechi Iwu, a journalist with Osiza FM.

The media man is hospitalized at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Owerri over complications from diabetes that led to his right leg being amputated.

Mr. Nwachuku said the visit was to show solidarity on behalf of Governor Uzodimma to his professional colleague, assuring him of their prayers, particularly that of his principal, and the prayers of Mr. Iwu’s numerous friends and well wishers who are touched by his plight.

“I am here on behalf of my principal to associate with him in this time of health challenge and to encourage him not to see the sickness as a death sentence.”

Oge Iwu at fmc

L-R: Chief Akaraonye, Mr. Oguwike Nwachuku with Ogechi Iwu during the visit

Mr. Nwachuku urged Mr. Iwu to continue in the high spirit he saw him and trust God for his total recovery “because healing is a thing of mind and when a sick person is in high spirit the patient gets recovered quickly.”

The spokesman of the Governor promised to bring the plight of the journalist to the attention of his principal, and assured that the Governor will, in his usual manner of one with milk of human sympathy, show concern over Iwu’s plight.

Earlier, Mr. Iwu thanked the CPS/Media Adviser, the State Chairman of NUJ, Imo State, Chief Christopher Akaraonye and other journalists who were on the entourage, for coming to identify with him on his sick bed, and assured that God in his infinite mercy will quicken his recovery.

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Bishop Ugorji heads IMSU Governing Council



Bishop Ugorji heads IMSU Governing Council

Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma has inaugurated a new Governing Council, for the Imo State University, IMSU, Owerri.

At the inauguration ceremony on Monday, August 31, the governor named Most Rev. Lucius Ugorji as the Chairman of the Governing Council and Pro-Chancellor of the University.

Other members of the Council include: Chief Leo Stan Ekeh, Chief Tony Ezenna, Prof. (Ven.) Chinedu Nebo, Sir. Louis Ezeigwe, Chief Engr. Ernest Nwapa, Dr. (Mrs.) Uwandu Uzoma, Ugoeze Victoria Adaku Ekezie, Prof. Adaobi Obasi (Vice Chancellor) and others.

Speaking at the inauguration, Governor Uzodimma said the choice of the members is to infuse fresh air into the university because “It is in dire need to bounce back to reckoning.”
He added that the choice of the members was because they have carved a niche for themselves in their chosen fields of endeavour and that they have earned solid reputation as men and women of substance in their individual trade, indices that qualified them for the appointment.

He challenged the members to bring their reputation to bear on the University, bearing in mind the task for good quality scholarship in Imo State University as well as service to humanity.

The Governor urged the members to deploy their individual accomplishments, excellence, expertise, passion for service as effectively as necessary to actualize the dream of his administration of having a highly reputable University comparable to the best Universities in the World.

He also requested the Council to “restore in words and deeds the motto of Imo State University, which is Excellence in Service”.

“Imo State University currently is a classical example of a failed University,” Governor Uzodimma said but strongly believed that “with a star studded Governing Council such as the one inaugurated there is no doubt that Imo is on the track to realize the dreams of her founding fathers.”

He further enjoined the Council members to quickly hit the ground running and come up with policies and programmes that will reassure Imo people that the University that made them proud 20 years back is on track as he assured them of Government partnership in this regard.

In an acceptance speech, on behalf of the Council, the Chairman, Most Rev. Ugorji who is the Catholic Bishop of Umuahia thanked the Governor for the absolute confidence reposed in them by giving them the assignment and acknowledged that though the task is daunting he has a strong belief that with the calibre of members of the Council and support of the management, staff and students the University will be returned to a centre of excellence which was the dream of the founding fathers.

He said that Imo State University deserves the best and that he and his members as inaugurated will work acidulously to ensure that the target of the governor in making Imo State University one of the best universities in Africa is realised.

He congratulated fellow members and promised that God’s willing, they will not fail the government and people of Imo State.

Present at the inauguration were the Deputy Governor, Prof. Placid Njoku, the Speaker Imo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Chiji Collins, the Secretary to the State Government, Chief Cosmas Iwu, and other members of the expanded State Executive Council.

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